Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lunch Hour

One of S's co-workers has been itching to go canoeing with me.  I pick C up when her lunch break begins and drive the five plus minutes to the Wheeler Marsh.  We could put in closer to her work, but we would spend 5 minutes crossing the river to the good stuff.  This way, we start right in it.

High tide has passed, but only by a half foot, if that.  A small breeze blows out of the southwest with the sky sunny.  C points out a snowy egret some 300 yards distant, and I point out a young night heron perching 50 yards away in a tree near the launch.  The night heron has better camouflage. 

We follow the main channel along the shore and out along the spit of sand that makes up Milford Point.  Bird watching is better near low tide when more food sources are accessible to more types of birds, but as we near the tip of the sand point we spot a flock of 14 mute swans.  Then as we near, we spot three oyster catchers on the backside of the spit, and a sandpiper or plover that I can't ID. 

Then we try to work our way back towards the put-in.  The marsh is a fairly round area about a mile across.  Inundated twice a day by the tides, the tall spartina grass grows here, and it is tall enough to block sight lines except at high tide.  High tide creates lots of channels and open areas that go to mud when the tide falls - it becomes a maze.  Some of the channels connect with other channels, some of them dead end, and some of them dead end tantalizingly close to the channel that you want to get to.  If you are really clueless and linger too long, you can find yourself sitting in a mud flat waiting for the tide to come back in.

We try one of the good channels, it looks familiar and probably for a good reason.  It dead ends after a couple hundred yards, and now, I imagine, I have paddled its length four or six times.  We try a larger and more likely route.  It takes us out into a patch of open water surrounded by spartina...leaves you wondering which of the two dozen doors to take to get out.  But, I've been here before and none of them actually exit although I know that the main channel is just yards away.

Lunch hour is gone by now (I warned S that besides canoe-time being unrelated to anything other than tides, sunsets and sunrises, getting misplaced was always possible) and we backtrack almost to the correct channel.  But, the one we end up in, just as it seems to be petering out, has a sneaker passage that gets us back into the main channel.

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